MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic will get a chance to defend his Australian Open title after receiving a medical exemption to travel to Melbourne, ending months of uncertainty about his participation because of the strict Covid-19 vaccination requirements in place for the tournament.
The world number one, who had declined to reveal his vaccination status, said previously that he was unsure whether he would compete at the Jan 17-30 tournament in Melbourne due to concerns over Australia’s quarantine rules.
The Victoria state government has mandated that all players, staff and fans attending the Australian Open must be fully vaccinated unless there is a genuine reason why an exemption should be granted.
Djokovic wrote on Instagram on Tuesday he has an exemption permission to travel to Australia.
“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022,” the Serbian nine-time Australian Open winner, who beat Daniil Medvedev in last year’s final, said.
His post was accompanied by a picture of the 34-year-old at an airport, looking relaxed, with his bags on a trolley.
Organisers Tennis Australia issued a statement later on Tuesday to confirm Djokovic will be allowed to compete at the tournament and is on his way to Australia. He earlier withdrew from Serbia’s team for the ATP Cup, which started last weekend in Sydney.
“Djokovic applied for a medical exemption which was granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
Djokovic heads to Australia having trained in Marbella, Spain over the last few days.
Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2022